Kaid Benfield Archive


Living in a fool’s paradise

Kaid Benfield

Posted April 1, 2010 at 1:29PM

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    Acqua Liana, yours for $24m (via Green Light Reflections)  Acqua Liana's grand staircase and 'water floor' (via Green Light Reflections)

Last year about this time, I ran a post about a new partnership formed by John McCain and Walmart to fight sprawl, abandoning the retailer’s big-box business model and switching to neighborhood-scale stores in traditional town centers.  You know, since they are all about sustainability these days.  And for good measure I added that Cindy McCain was donating several of the couple’s homes to Enterprise Community Partners to be converted into affordable housing. 

Almost no one noticed that it was, um, posted on the Feast of Fools.  One commenter over at the Sustainable Cities Collective even asked me for more examples.  Gotcha. 

In the real world, I get a lot of pitches for stories to run in the blog, mostly from strangers.  Now, as most readers know, this blog is about nothing if not walkable neighborhoods, an abundance of green transportation choices and, for the most part, affordability and urban revitalization.  But, as I explained a few months ago, some of the pitches are clearly from the uninitiated, asking me to write about everything from “the world’s greenest mattress” to “eliminating pet odors naturally” and more.

  'the greenest mansion in America,' Acqua Liana (via Green Light Reflections)

So, in the spirit of walkable, affordable revitalization, and true green living during the greatest recession our country has known in 70 years, here’s an unedited pitch that showed up in my email box last Friday. 

“Dear Kaid Benfield :

“To create an opulent $24.3 million ‘green’ mansion in the midst of a recession takes guts, vision and confidence.  All three describe Frank McKinney – a man whose energy and creativity know no bounds. And when he isn’t building oceanfront mansions he is ‘sharing his blessings’ in an even bigger way! Please read more on this real estate ‘artist,’ and ‘Philanthro-capitalist’ and let me know if I may book an interview – one that your guests will long remember.


“Responsible stewardship is the key to success for Frank McKinney as he keeps raising the bar with his multi-million dollar masterpieces

Manalapan Beach, FL, March 26, 2010 - Acknowledged by Donald Trump for his ‘groundbreaking deals and rock star looks’ and dubbed a ‘real estate rock czar’ by the Wall Street Journal are just two accolades that come to mind when describing a man who defies conventional wisdom in the risky world of high-end real estate and just keeps coming out on top – a winner with anything he touches!

“Frank McKinney’s magnetic persona adds to his appeal as evidenced by his recent appearances on distinguished shows, such as 20/20, Oprah, CBS Evening News, USA Today, HGTV and Travel Channel.  Frank’s architectural masterpieces bear his own stamp of style and elegance, with the latest being no exception.

“Acqua Liana (Water Flower) is a stunning $24.3 million, 15,000+ square-foot mansion in Manalapan Beach, Florida, that was recently featured on the Travel Channel and HGTV, and was chosen to grace the cover and centerfold of Unique Homes - the premiere magazine for luxury real estate, with a circulation throughout eighty countries.  From its unique glass water floors and water walls, to its serene gardens, waterfalls, pools and reflecting ponds, Acqua Liana, dubbed ‘The Greenest Mansion in America,’ is a masterpiece on over 1.6 acres of serene waterfront property that must be seen to be believed!  Check out this magnificent home at: www.frank-mckinney.com/acqua_liana.aspx.” 

By the way, “the greenest mansion in America” (photos above) has a Walk Score of 40, below 62 percent of the nation’s addresses.  Here’s how it greets the street:

  Acqua Liana greets the street (via Google Earth street view) 

The main website is http://www.frank-mckinney.com, which modestly includes a video of “Frank’s Greatest Hits”:


In fairness, I must mention that the press release also describes an international foundation that serves the poor and homeless, and that, among many other things, rescued four people who were trapped in the Haiti earthquake.  Good for McKinney on that, and his motives for giving back seem sincere to me.  That work seems indeed praiseworthy. 

But it’s also not what they are leading with.  

I leave you with the incomparable Mose Allison, performing the song of the day: